Notes on IAMSAR VOLUME III: Mobile Facilities, with updated contents


IAMSAR Volume III is intended to be carried aboard rescue units, aircraft and vessels to help performance of SAR duties as support members, OSC (on-scene coordinator) functions and SAR aspects involving their own emergencies. Thus it provides guidance on SAR aspects to all these three categories.

Purpose of IAMSAR Vol III

The purpose of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual for Mobile Facilities, which is intended for carriage onboard search and rescue units, and onboard civil aircraft and vessels, is to provide guidance to those who:

  • operate aircraft, vessels, or other craft, and who may be called upon to use the facility to support SAR operations
  • may need to perform on-scene coordinator functions for multiple facilities in the vicinity of a distress situation
  • experience actual or potential emergencies, and may require search and rescue (SAR) assistance.

Contents of IAMSAR Vol III (Updated)

As per IMO MSC Circular, MSC.1/CIRC.1594 Amendments to IAMSAR Manual dated May 25, 2018 the contents of IAMSAR Volume III are as follows:

  • Foreword
  • Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Glossary
  • Section 1 : Overview of the SAR system
  • Section 2: Distress alerts and messages
  • Section 3: Medical assistance
  • Section 4: Vessel emergencies at sea
  • Section 5: Aircraft emergencies
  • Section 6: Initial action by assisting vessels
  • Section 7: Initial action by assisting aircraft
  • Section 8: On-scene communications
  • Section 9: On Scene Coordinator
  • Section 10: Multiple aircraft SAR operations
  • Section 11: Aircraft Coordinator
  • Section 12: Searching
  • Section 13: Rescue action plan
  • Section 14: Rescue or assistance by vessels
  • Section 15: Rescue or assistance by aircraft
  • Section 16: Vessel/ helicopter operations
  • Section 17: Underwater search and rescue
  • Section 18: Rescue on land
  • Section 19: Intercepts
  • Section 20: Survivors
  • Section 21: Deceased persons
  • Section 22: Public relations
  • Section 23: Training
  • Appendix A: Regulation V/33 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended
  • Appendix B: Search action message
  • Appendix C: Factors affecting observer effectiveness
  • Appendix D: Standard format for search and rescue situation report (SITREP)
  • Appendix E: SAR briefing and debriefing form
  • Appendix F: Own emergency
  • Appendix G: Rendering assistance
  • Appendix H: Multiple aircraft SAR operations

Important abbreviations and definitions mentioned in IAMSAR Volume III

ACO: AIRCRAFT COORDINATOR: A person who coordinates the involvement of multiple aircraft in SAR operations.
TAS: TRUE AIR SPEED: Speed of air craft through air mass. TAS corrected for wind speed gives ground speed.
SC: SEARCH and rescue COORDINATOR: SCs are top level SAR mangers. Each state may have one or more SCs, who could be person or an agency.
OSC: ON SCENE COORDINATOR: Person who is designated to coordinate search and rescue within a specified area.
RCC: RESCUE COORDINATION CENTRE: A unit responsible for promoting efficient organization of SAR services and for coordinating the conduct of SAR operations within a SAR region.
ARCC: AERONAUTICAL RCC: An RCC dealing with aeronautical SAR incidents.
MRCC: MARITIME RCC: An RCC dealing with maritime SAR incidents.
JRCC: JOINT RCC: An RCC responsible for both aeronautical and maritime SAR incidents.
RSC: RESCUE SUB CENTRE: A unit subordinate to a RCC established to complement the latter according to particular provisions of the responsible authorities.
RESCUE: An operation that comprises of retrieval of persons in distress, providing for their medical and other needs and finally delivery to place of safety.
SEARCH ACTION PLAN: Message, normally developed by the SMC for passing instructions to SAR facilities and agencies participating in a SAR mission.
RESCUE ACTION PLAN: A plan for rescue operations normally prepared by the SMC for implementation by OSC and facilities on-scene.

SITREP: Situation Report. It gives information about on-scene mission progress and conditions. SITREPs are used by SAR facilities to keep OSC informed, and by OSC to keep SMC informed and by SMC to keep superiors, RCCs and RSCs informed The standard format of SITREP is given in Appendix D of IAMSAR Volume III.
SMC: SAR MISSION COORDINATOR: The official temporarily
assigned to coordinate response to an actual or apparent distress situation.
SRR: SAR REGION: An area of defined dimensions, associated with a RCC, within which SAR services are provided.
SRU: SEARCH and RESCUE UNIT: A unit composed of trained personnel and provided with equipment suitable for the expeditious conduct of SAR operations.
SART: SEARCH AND RESCUE TRANSPONDER: A survival craft transponder that, when activated, sends out a signal automatically when a pulse from a nearby radar reaches it. The signal appears on the interrogating radar screen and gives the bearing and distance of the transponder from the interrogating radar for SAR purposes.

TS: TRACK SPACING: Most search patterns consist of parallel tracks or sweeps covering a rectangular area. The distance between adjacent parallel search tracks is known as track spacing. The track spacing is used in all search patterns except for sector search pattern, It is denoted by “ S ”.
DATUM: A geographic point, line or area used as a reference in search planning.
CES: COAST EARTH STATION: Maritime name for an INMARSAT shore-based station linking SESs with terrestrial communication networks.
CSP: COMMENCE SEARCH POINT: Point, normally specified by the SMC, where a SAR facility is to begin its search pattern.
LUT: LOCAL USER TERMINAL: It is an earth receiving station that receives beacon signals relayed by Cospas-Sarsat Satellites, processes them to determine the location of the beacons and forward the signals.
COSPAS SARSAT SYSTEM: A satellite system designed to detect distress beacons transmitting on frequencies 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz
ELT: EMERGENCY LOCATOR TRANSMITTER: Aeronautical radio distress beacon for alerting and transmitting homing signals.
SafertyNET: Communications service provided via Inmarsat for promulgation of MSI, including shore to ship relays of distress alerts and communication for SAR.

AMVER (Automated Mutual assistance VEssel Rescue system)

  • AMVER is one of many ship reporting systems. It is a world-wide system operated exclusively to support SAR and make information available to all RCCs.
  • There is no charge for vessels to participate in, nor for RCCs to use, Amver.
  • Many land-based providers of communications services world-wide relay ship reports to Amver free of charge.
  • Any merchant vessel of 1,000 gross tonnes or more on any voyage of greater than 24 hours is welcome to participate.
  • Information voluntarily provided by vessels to AMVER is protected by the US Coast Guard as commercial proprietary data and made available only to SAR authorities or others specifically authorised by the ship involved.


It could be national or regional in nature and is looked after by one or more SCs (SAR Coordinators).
SCs are top-level SAR managers having overall responsibility. (VOLUME I)
They are established by SCs. Each RCC has its own area with well-defined dimensions, known as SRR (SAR Region) and RSC has its own SRS (SAR Sub-Region). Maritime SRRs are depicted by IMO and Aeronautical SRRs are depicted by ICAO. RCC could be MRCC or ARCC or JRCC.
SMC (SAR MISSION COORDINATOR): During the SAR incident RCC chief or his designee takes the role of SMC. This
function is temporary and lasts only for the duration of the incident. Because of the close proximity in the nature of work, RCC and SMC are used interchangeably. SMC makes search action plan, rescue action plan, specifies CSP, coordinates the operation with adjacent RCCs when appropriate, and prepares final reports among other SAR-related duties.
OSC (ON SCENE COORDINATOR): If SMC is not designated OSC performs additional duties of SMC till the times SMC is deputed. Normally this duty carried out by the shipmaster unless a more capable SRU is available. Among its duties are: Receive search & rescue action plans from SMC or make them himself if no SMC is deputed.
Make SITREPS. Coordinate on-scene communications and operations of all
SAR facilities.
Thus, SAR has three levels of coordination:

Level 1: SAR Coordinator (SCs)

SAR Coordinator (SCs) are the top level SAR managers; each State normally will have one or more persons or agencies for whom this designation may be appropriate.

Duties of SCs

SCs have the overall responsibility for:

  • establishing, staffing, equipping and managing the SAR system
  • establishing RCCs and rescue sub-centres (RSCs)
  • providing or arranging for SAR facilities
  • coordinating SAR training
  • developing SAR policies.

Level 2: SAR Mission Coordinator (SMC)

  • Each SAR operation is carried out under the guidance of an SMC. This function exists only for the duration of a specific SAR incident and is normally performed by the RCC chief or a designee. The SMC may have assisting staff.
  • The SMC guides a SAR operation until a rescue has been effected or it becomes apparent that further efforts would be of no avail.
  • The SMC should be well trained in all SAR processes, be thoroughly familiar with the applicable SAR plans, and:
    • gather information about distress situations
    • develop accurate and workable SAR action plans
    • dispatch and coordinate the resources to carry out SAR missions.

Duties of SMC

IAMSAR Volume III enlist the duties of SAR Mission Coordinator, which are as follows:

  1. obtain and evaluate all data on the emergency
  2. ascertain the type of emergency equipment carried by the missing or distressed craft
  3. remain informed of prevailing environmental conditions
  4. if necessary, ascertain movements and locations of vessels and alert shipping in likely search areas for rescue, lookout and/or radio watch
  5. plot the areas to search and decide on methods and facilities to be used
  6. develop the search action plan and rescue action plan as appropriate
  7. coordinate the operation with adjacent RCCs when appropriate
  8. arrange briefing and debriefing of SAR personnel
  9. evaluate all reports and modify action plans as necessary
  10. arrange for refuelling of aircraft and, for prolonged search, make arrangements for the accommodation of SAR personnel
  11. arrange for delivery of supplies to sustain survivors
  12. maintain in chronological order an accurate and up-to-date record
  13. issue progress reports
  14. determine when to suspend or terminate the search
  15. release SAR facilities when assistance is no longer required
  16. notify accident investigation authorities – if applicable, notify the State of registry of the aircraft missing or distressed craft
  17. prepare a final report.

Level 3: On Scene Coordinator (OSC)

When two or more SAR facilities are working together on the same mission, one person on-scene may be needed to coordinate the activities of all participating facilities. The SMC designates an OSC, who may be the person in charge of a:

  • SRU, ship or aircraft participating in search, or nearby facility in position to handle OSC duties.
  • The person in charge of the first facility to arrive at the scene will normally assume the OSC function until the SMC arranges for the person to be relieved.

Duties of OSC

  1. Coordinate operations of all SAR facilities on-scene.
  2. Receiving the search action plan or rescue plan from the SMC (SAR Mission Co-ordinator) or planning the search or rescue operation, if no plan is otherwise available.
  3. Modifying the search action or rescue action plan as the situation on-scene dictates, keeping the SMC advised.
  4. Coordinating on-scene communications.
  5. Monitoring the performance of other participating facilities.
  6. Ensuring operations are conducted safely, paying particular attention to maintaining safe separations among all facilities both surface and air.
  7. Making periodic situation reports (SITREPs) to the SMC. The reports should include but not be limited to:Weather and sea conditions.
  8. Advising the SMC to release the facilities no longer required.
  9. Reporting the number and names of survivors to the SMC.
  10. Providing the SMC with the names and designations of facilities with survivors on board.
  11. Reporting which survivors are in each facility.
  12. Requesting additional SMC assistance, when necessary (e.g. medical evacuation).
  13. Receive search action plan or rescue action plan from the SMC or plan the same, if no plan is otherwise available.
  14. Coordinate on scene communications. SAR facilities will normally report to OSC. SAR facilities should be in possession of a copy of International Code of Signals,
  15. Monitor the performance of other participating facilities.
  16. Make periodic situation reports (SITREPs).
  17. Maintain a detailed record of the operation.
  18. Maintain communication with SMC
  19. The results of search to date.
  20. Any future plans or recommendations
  21. Maintaining a detailed record of the operation:On-scene arrival and departure times of SAR facilities, other vessels and aircraft engaged in the operation.
  22. Areas searched
  23. Track spacing used
  24. Sightings and leads reported
  25. Actions taken
  26. Results obtained
  27. No advice received from these authorities can set aside the duties of any master as set forth in regulation V/33 of SOLAS 1974 (see appendix A).

Rendering Assistance

On receiving a distress message, following immediate action should be taken:

  • Acknowledge distress message
  • If possible, gather relevant information from craft in distress (position, type and identity of craft, type of cargo onboard, POBs, nature of distress, type of assistance required etc.)
  • Maintain continuous listening watch on international distress frequencies.
  • Maintain communication with distressed craft and convey relevant information about own vessel (Position, identity and speed of own vessel, ETA to site of distress etc.)
  • Use all available means to be aware of the latest position of the distressed craft.
  • On reaching closer post extra look outs to keep the craft in sight.
  • Establish contact with SMC and convey all information, updating, as necessary.

Planning and Conducting the Search (Search Action Plan (SAP))

The SMC typically provides the search action plan. The OSC and ACO (if designated) and facilities on-scene implement the search action plan (see example message in appendix B)

Search Action Plan message consists of six parts:

  • Situation
    • a brief description of the incident
    • position of the incident, and time that it occurred
    • number of persons on board (POB)
    • primary and secondary search objects
    • amount and types of survival equipment
    • weather forecast and period of forecast
    • SAR facilities on-scene
  • Search area(s) (presented in column format)
    • area designation, size, corner points, centre point, and circle radius
    • other essential data
  • Execution
    • SAR facility identification, parent agency, search pattern, creep direction, commence search points, and altitude
  • Coordination required
    • designates the SMC, OSC and ACO
    • SAR facility on-scene times
    • desired track spacing and coverage factors
    • OSC and ACO instructions (e.g. use of datum marker buoys)
    • SAR facility change of operational coordination (SAR facility follows coordinating guidance of SMC, OSC and/or ACO)
    • parent agency relief instructions
  • Communications
    • coordinating channels
    • on-scene channels
    • monitor channels
    • method for OSC and/or ACO to be identified by SAR facilities
    • press channels, if appropriate
  • Reports
    • OSC reports of on-scene weather, progress, and other SITREP information, using standard SITREP format
    • parent agencies to provide summary at the end of daily operations (hours flown, area(s) searched, and coverage factor(s)).

Rescue Action Plan

Rescue Action Plan is also prepared by SMC for implementation by OSC and SAR facilities. The plan may be conveyed in Rescue Action message. At times, however, the plan may also be prepared by OSC.
The parts of the RAP message are exactly similar to those for SAP message except that “Search area” is replaced by “Rescue area”.

Ship reporting systems and vessel tracking

Ship reporting systems have been established by several States. Ships at sea may be the only craft near the scene of a distressed aircraft or vessel.

  • A ship reporting system enables the SMC to quickly:
  • identify vessels in the vicinity of a distress situation, along with their positions, courses, and speeds
  • be aware of other information about the vessels which may be valuable (whether a doctor is on board, etc.)
  • know how to contact the vessels
  • improve the likelihood of rapid aid during emergencies
  • reduce the number of calls for assistance to vessels unfavourably located to respond
  • reduce the response time to provide assistance.
  • Masters of vessels are urged or mandated to send regular reports to the authority operating a ship reporting system for SAR and other safety-related services.
  • Additional information on operators of ship reporting systems may be obtained from RCCs.
  • Automatic identification system (AIS) and long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) transmissions are also important for providing shore authorities with real or near real time vessel tracking data to support search and rescue.

Situation Reports (SITREP)

    • provide earliest notice of an emergency
    • pass urgent essential details when requesting assistance
    • pass amplifying or updating information during SAR operations
  • The OSC uses SITREPs to keep the SMC informed of on-scene mission progress and conditions, and addresses SITREPs to the SMC unless otherwise directed. Search SAR facilities use SITREPs to keep the OSC informed.
  • The SMC uses SITREPs to keep superiors, other RCCs, and any other interested agencies informed.
  • Where pollution or threat of pollution exists from the vessel or aircraft casualty, the agency tasked with environmental protection should be an information addressee on SITREPs from the SMC.
  • Initial SITREPs should be transmitted as soon as details of an incident become clear enough to indicate SAR involvement.
  • Each SITREP concerning the same incident should be numbered sequentially.
  • A standard SITREP format is shown in appendix D of IAMSAR Volume III.
  • SITREPs prepared on-scene usually provide the following information:
    • Identification
    • Situation
    • Action taken
    • Future plans
    • Status of case

Planning a Search at Sea


  • It will be necessary to establish a datum, or geographic reference, for the area to be searched. The following factors should be considered:
    • reported position and time of the SAR incident
    • any supplementary information such as DF bearings or sightings
    • time interval between incident and arrival of SAR facilities
    • estimated surface movements of the distressed craft or survival craft, depending on drift. (The two figures following this discussion are used in calculating drift.)
  • The datum position for the search is found as follows:
    • drift has two components: leeway and total water current
    • leeway direction is downwind
    • leeway speed depends on wind speed
    • the observed wind speed when approaching the scene may be used for estimating leeway speed of liferafts by using the graph following this discussion. (Persons in the water (PIW) have no leeway while liferaft stability and speed vary with or without drogue or ballast.)
    • total water current may be estimated by using the computed set and drift of vessels at or near the scene
    • drift direction and speed is the vector sum of leeway and total water current
  • drift distance is drift speed multiplied by the time interval between the incident time, or time of the last computed datum, and the commence search time
  • datum position is found by moving from the incident position, or last computed datum position, the drift distance in the drift direction and plotting the resulting position on a suitable chart.
IAMSAR-Volume-iii-Datum Graph
Datum Graph


Most search patterns consist of parallel tracks or sweeps covering a rectangular area. The difference between adjacent tracks is called the track spacing.
Recommended uncorrected TSs are provided in IAMSAR manual along with correction factors which depend on weather conditions and search object. Uncorrected TS is multiplied by correction factor to get the
recommended correct TS.TS does not apply to sector search pattern. TS is denoted by S. S is given by:

S = SU x f w

Where, SU is TS uncorrected
fw is weather correction factor.

Uncorrected TS is given in tabular form for different search objects for different meteorological visibilities. There are three tables, one each for merchant vessel, helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. Maximum value of fw is 1 which is for normal weather (i.e. Su = S) and as weather gets worse factor fw becomes less thus reducing value of S.

Searching Speed (V)

All search facilities should proceed at same speed as directed by OSC. This is normally the maximum speed of the slowest ship. This speed may, however, have to be reduced in restricted visibility.

Search Area (A)

Search radius is computed using 2 methods:
1. If search is to commence immediately, assume R = 10 NM
2. If time is available, compute the area as advised in following steps:
i. Compute area A, a certain craft can cover at a speed V in given time T: A = V x T x S; where S = TS , T = Time for which
craft will search, V = Craft’s speed
ii. The total area At which can be covered by several crafts is
given by sum total of areas covered by each craft:
At = A1 + A2 + A3 = A4 + ……………..
iii. If all crafts are searching at same speed for the same amount of
time, then:
At = NA; where N is the number of crafts involved.
iv. Search Area radius ( R ) is then given by:
R = √At / 2
v. Draw circle with datum as centre and R as radius. Draw tangents to the circle to form square. If several search facilities
are involved, then divide the square into sub-areas and assign the sub-areas as appropriate to different search facilities.

Choice of Search Patterns

  • Search patterns and procedures must be pre-planned so as to enable minimum delay, risks and maximum efficiency. Standard search patterns have been devised to meet differing situations.
  • They are based on visual search and have been selected for simplicity and effectiveness.
  • The OSC should obtain a search action plan from the SMC via the RCC or RSC ASAP. OSC should keep the SMC informed at regular intervals and whenever the situation has changed.
  • The choice of search pattern will be decided by following factors:
    • Type and size of distressed craft.
    • Meteorological visibility.
    • Sea and weather conditions.
    • Time of day or night.
    • Time of arrival at datum and size of area to be searched.
    • Number and type of assisting crafts available.

Type of Search Patterns listed in IAMSAR Volume III

Expanding Square Search (SS):


1. It is most effective when location of object is known.
2. CSP is always the datum.
3. It is appropriate for small vessels and boats to search for survivors in water with little or no leeway.
4. Accurate navigation is required. First leg is usually oriented directly into the wind to minimize navigational errors.
5. Area involved being small, the procedure must not be used by multiple aircrafts at same altitudes or multiple sea crafts.

Sector Search (VS):


1. It is most effective when position of search object is accurately known
and search area is small.
2. It is used to search a circular area centred on datum point. Due to small area involved procedure must not be used simultaneously by multiple vessels/ aircrafts.
3. An aircraft and a vessel may be used together to perform independent sector searches of same area.
4. A suitable marker (smoke float or radio beacon) may be dropped at datum point for reference or navigational aid mark the centre.
5. For vessels, search pattern radius is usually between 2 nm and 5 nm and turn is 120 degrees, normally to starboard. For aircraft the search pattern radius is usually between 5 nm and 29 nm.

Track Line Search (TS)

1. It is normally used when an aircraft or a vessel has disappeared without a trace along a known route.
2. It is often used as initial search effort due to ease of planning and implementation.
3. Consists of rapid and reasonably thorough search along intended route of the distressed craft.
4. Search may be along one side of track line and return in the opposite direction on the other side (TSR: track line search, return).
5. Search may be along the intended track and once on each side, then , then search finally continues on its way and does not return (TSN: track line search, not return).
6. Aircrafts are frequently used for TS due to their high speed.

Notes on IAMSAR VOLUME III: Mobile Facilities, with updated contents 1

Parallel Sweep Search (PS)

1. It is used to search a large area when survivor location is not known.
2. Most effective over water or flat terrain.
3. The CSP is in one corner of the sub area, one half tracks inside the
rectangle from each of the two sides forming the corner.
4. Search legs are parallel to each other and to the long sides of the sub
5. It can be used by 2, 3, 4, 5 or more ships.

Creeping Line Search Coordinated (CSC)

Notes on IAMSAR VOLUME III: Mobile Facilities, with updated contents 5

1. The aircraft does most of the searching, while ship steams along a
course at a speed as directed by OSC.
2. It gives a higher probability of detection than can normally be attained
by an aircraft searching alone.
3. Ship speed varies according to speed of aircraft and size of the

Contour Search (OS)

1. Used around mountains and in valleys when sharp changes in elevation make other patterns not practical.
2. Search is started from highest peak and goes from top to bottom with new search altitude for each circuit.
3. Search altitude intervals may be 150m to 300m.
4. If the mountain cannot be circled, successive sweeps at the same altitude intervals as listed above should be flown along its side.
5. Valleys are searched in circles, moving the centre of the circuit one track spacing after each completed circuit.

Rescuing Survivors

  • The OSC coordinates the rescue action, directing the most suitably equipped rescue units to move in. And other units stand by and assist as required.
  • When survivors are rescued, it is important that full details of the casualty are obtained quickly and passed to the OSC, so that the search is not called off prematurely. Their medical and nutritional needs must also be made.

Preparations carried out on board en route to render the assistance to the distressed vessel as per IAMSAR Volume III

On-Board Preparations:

  • A vessel en route to assist a distressed craft should prepare for possible
  • SAR action on scene, including the possible need to recover people
  • from survival craft or from the water. See “Recovery of survivors by
  • assisting vessels” later in this section.
  • Masters of vessels proceeding to assist should assess the risks they may
  • encounter on scene, including the risks such as those associated with
  • leaking cargo, etc. Information should be sought as necessary from the
  • distressed craft and/or from the RCC.

A vessel en-route to assist a distressed craft should have the following equipment ready for possible use:

  • Life-saving and rescue equipment:
    • lifeboat
    • inflatable liferaft
    • lifejackets
    • survival suits for the crew
    • lifebuoys
    • breeches buoys
    • portable VHF radios for communication with the ship and boats deployed
    • line-throwing apparatus
    • buoyant lifelines
    • hauling lines
    • non-sparking boat hooks or grappling hooks
    • hatchets
    • rescue baskets
    • stretchers
    • pilot ladders
    • scrambling nets
    • copies of the International Code of Signals
    • radio equipment operating on MF/HF and/or VHF/UHF and capable of communicating with the RCC and rescue facilities, and with a facility for direction finding (DF)
    • supplies and survival equipment, as required
    • fire-fighting equipment
    • portable ejector pumps
    • binoculars
    • cameras
    • bailers and oars
  • Signalling Equipment:
    • signalling lamps
    • searchlights
    • torches
    • flare pistol with colour-coded signal flares
    • buoyant VHF/UHF marker beacons
    • floating lights
    • smoke generators
    • flame and smoke floats
    • dye markers
    • loud hailers
  • Preparations for medical assistance, including:
    • stretchers
    • blankets
    • medical supplies and medicines
    • clothing
    • food
    • shelter
  • Miscellaneous Equipment:
    • If fitted, a gantry crane for hoisting on each side of ship with a cargo net for recovery of survivors.
    • Line running from bow to stern at the water’s edge on both sides for boats and craft to secure alongside.
    • On the lowest weather deck, pilot ladders and manropes to assist survivors boarding the vessel.
    • Vessel’s lifeboats ready for use as a boarding station.
    • Line-throwing apparatus ready for making connection with either ship in distress or survival craft.
    • Floodlights set in appropriate locations, if recovery at night.

Conclusion of Search

  • The OSC must decide, in consultation with SMC, when the rescue is completed and must inform assisting ships, thus relieving them of their obligation to remain.
  • The OSC should also inform the CRS of all relevant details. Before leaving the scene of successful rescue, life rafts and life-jackets etc. should be retrieved or sunk and other floating debris should be the subject of radio warning.
  • If search is unsuccessful and all reasonable hope of rescuing survivors has passed, the OSC, in consultation with the SMC, will call off the search and dismiss assisting units. A radio message asking all ships to keep look out is advisable.


Aircraft can assist by dropping markers, smoke or flame floats, and survival equipment, consisting of nine person dinghy and two bags of supplies. They can carry out an air search, locate a casualty, keep it under observation and guide surface craft to it. Flying-boats may be able to alight and pick up survivors. Helicopters may also pick up survivors.